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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

GREEK EDUCATION                          27

general feeling of insecurity with regard to all the institutions
which their fathers had regarded as beyond criticism and unbelief.
Then followed the disastrous defeat of Athens in the long struggle
with Sparta, and the problem of right living became more than
ever acute,

It was during this time that Socrates appeared as a teacher.
In many respects he did not differ from the sophists. Abandoning
his occupation as a sculptor, he spent the later years of his life
going about among the young men and discussing with them the
same ethical and social questions as were dealt with by the
sophists. It is little wonder that Aristophanes in his satirical
attacks on the sophists identified Socrates with them, and actually
treated him as the most representative member of the class.
So far as the practice of discussing social problems-—which
Aristophanes and the more conservative Athenians regarded
with some justice as calculated to unsettle belief—was concerned,
Socrates was not distinguishable from the sophists. And yet on
a closer view, various differences are evident. For one thing,
Socrates was an Athenian, the first Athenian as we have seen to
act as a public teacher; and though acting as a teacher, he remain-
ed true to the traditions of the Athenian gentleman and never
taught for money. The sophists had no such delicacy. They
undertook their work as a means of livelihood and took pay as
a matter of course. Plainly the motives for teaching were different
in the two cases, and the difference showed itself in all their teach-
ing* The sophists taught because their help was wanted by their
pupils, and regarded the more remote effects of their teaching
on the Athenian State as of no consequence. Socrates, otx the
other hand, taught because it seemed to him that there was need
for such teaching as his in the interests of Athens.

The greater sophists had developed an individualistic philo-
sopfcy of society. According to them, man—the individual
sentient man™i& the measure of all things; and on this ground
they set up the rights of the individual citizen in opposition
to the claims of law and custom. This doctrine involving, as
it ultimately does, a complete scepticism about moral principles,
was resolutely resisted by Socrates, who laboured to show that
there are presupposed in every particular action general principles
or ideas which are the same for everybody and for all time.'J
I Temperance^ justice, wisdom, are not merely what the individual